It would be nice if business operated as a democracy where every team member was given an equal vote. Unfortunately the practicalities of this approach would mean that you’d end up drinking lots of coffee, attending endless meetings and debating minutia trying to satisfy all the pet projects and minor grievances of the masses. It’s just not possible and it would waste too much valuable company time.
This doesn’t mean that everyone within an organisation shouldn’t have a voice – they should and THEY MUST. And it is the leaders’ jobs to make sure they are heard and their views are considered and evaluated. My point is that while they get an equal say (and can be involved in the decision making process) they don’t automatically get an equal vote in the final decision. In the end someone has to make the final call and that is better done by a person, after considering all views, than a committee.
The concept of a benevolent dictatorship is, in most cases, a good model for business. Benevolence means being pre-disposed to acts of goodness. A dictator is someone who has absolute power.
The world has a bad view of the word dictator fuelled by power-hungry lunatics like Hitler, Saddam and Gadaffi. These “dictators” were not benevolent, or respected, and their actions were based purely on self-interest and that is never good.
Benevolent dictators, on the other hand, do the right thing – they grudgingly accept the responsibilities that ultimate authority demands and they put their own interests behind the needs of the wider organisation. They also show a readiness to act decisively even in desperate situations knowing the buck stops with them. This only works if a leader is respected. Respect doesn’t happen overnight but is built over time by proving personal capability and commitment. It doesn’t automatically come with a job title, nor should it.
So be ethical, kind, transparent and inclusive but also decisive. And make sure you focus on building a strong team to support you. People respond to strong inspirational leadership with a clear vision of the future and the courage and drive to take it there.
If that sums up a benevolent dictator I wonder if there is anything wrong with that?
Article by The Bull